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Oklahoma Board of Nursing finds information technology consolidation costly

Participating in Gov. Mary Fallin's program to consolidate information technology services has cost the Oklahoma Board of Nursing more money and resulted in security breaches and poorer service, according to a state audit released Monday.
by Randy Ellis Published: September 24, 2013
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Participating in the governor's program to consolidate information technology services has cost the Oklahoma Board of Nursing more money and resulted in security breaches and poorer service, according to a state audit released Monday.

Consolidation of information technology services within the state Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) was one of the major initiatives of Gov. Mary Fallin. Such computer support services previously were scattered among dozens of state agencies.

The governor touted consolidation as a way to improve efficiency and save money.

It hasn't worked out that way for the Board of Nursing, according to a performance audit released Monday by State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones.

“Instead of reducing costs, the consolidation has actually increased related IT (information technology) expenses by 14 percent from Fiscal Year 2011 to Fiscal Year 2013,” auditors reported.

Information technology expenses cost the Board of Nursing $204,396 in Fiscal Year 2011, before the consolidation. Those costs rose to $232,569 in Fiscal Year 2013, after the consolidation had taken place, auditor said.

OMES workers also breached security by granting employees unapproved access to files, auditors said.

“Inappropriate employee access could undermine the agency's internal controls and data security, allowing unauthorized staff to read or edit file content such as licensing information, payment details and Social Security numbers,” auditors said.

Failed to meet targets

Auditors said the Office of Management and Enterprise Services has failed to meet agreed-upon targets for timely responses and resolutions to computer system complaints.

If the Office of Management and Enterprise Services was a private vendor, “the substandard service level provided to OBN (Oklahoma Board of Nursing) quite possibly would result in termination of the IT service agreement,” auditors said.

Many other state agencies have registered similar complaints following consolidation and a number of those concerns were reflected in a recent Senate subcommittee report, the audit said.

Auditors noted 25 state agencies, including the Attorney General's Office and Oklahoma Department of Transportation, are scheduled to join the state's information technology consolidation efforts in Fiscal Year 2014.

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by Randy Ellis
Investigative Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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Any large organization will attest that initiatives of this size and complexity bring challenges. The effort as a whole is meeting its goal of reducing statewide IT costs while improving services and security.”

John Estus,
OMES spokesman

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